Chad’s Morning Brief: Jim Gerlt Elected, Supreme Court Watch, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of June 25, 2012. Give us your feedback below and tune in to Lubbock’s First News with Chad Hasty for these and many more topics from 6-9 am.
1. Gerlt Wins (link)
Jim Gerlt easily defeated Councilman Paul Beane in the District 4 runoff race on Saturday. Some were surprised by the results, others weren't. You can hear both Gerlt and Beane's reactions in the link above.
The question is, how did Gerlt win? I think there were a couple of reasons. First, he got his people out to vote. When I went around to different polling locations during early voting, Gerlt had volunteers out asking people to vote for their candidate. I didn't see anything like that for Beane. Second, I think people are just tired of the same people being on the City Council. The people in District 4 wanted change, and they got it. I think the people in District 4 wanted the nice-guy instead of experience. Time will tell whether that was the smart move or not.
We are seeing a trend in Lubbock right now and Victor Hernandez, Todd Klein, and Karen Gibson should take notice. The people in Lubbock are unhappy with the way things have been and justified or not, the anti-incumbent attitude is alive and well.
2. Obamacare Ruling Today? (link)
Is today the day? All eyes will be on the Supreme Court as we wait to see how they rule on Obamacare. According to the Boston Herald, if Obamacare is shot down, the debate will increase.
The Supreme Court soon will pull the trigger on the epic health care case. Better be ready to rumble. Everyone else is, as the court should announce Monday or by the end of the week whether the Obama administration’s signature health care law lives or dies, in whole or in part.
"We’ll be ready for court contingencies," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pledged.
Key players certainly are prepared to pounce, whichever way the court moves. If the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act survives, Republicans will introduce repeal bills to keep the debate roiling. If the law dies, Democrats will turn an "activist" Supreme Court into a juicy campaign target while lawmakers from both parties resurrect certain favored portions of the measure. If the individual mandate to purchase coverage is cut out but the rest of the law is left intact, lawmakers and insurance companies will be figuring out how to manage what remains.
Whatever happens, it’s unlikely that Congress will act quickly, except to issue news releases. Republicans control the House of Representatives, but Democrats run the Senate. And lawmakers are scheduled to recess from June 29 until July 9.
Insurance companies, too, will need time to adjust. Len Nichols, the director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, noted that "insurers have been preparing for reforms, and they would have to do a 180 anticipating deregulation" that could force them to return to old business models.
Still, some crucial maneuvering already has occurred.
Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare have declared that they’ll continue offering certain popular provisions of the law regardless of the court’s eventual decision. These protected provisions include an option to keep children on their parents’ policies up to the age of 26.
There will be fireworks after the ruling is handed down. Probably on both sides of the debate. As someone who enjoys politics, I can't wait.
3. Senate Debate (link)
Now that the District 4 runoff race is over we get to focus on another runoff, the U.S. Senate race between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst. The two participated in a debate on Friday and kept sparring afterwards.
Cruz saved his sharpest comments for reporters after he and Dewhurst exchanged words in an hour-long KERA/Channel 13 debate, dominated by Cruz's criticism of Dewhurst for "negotiating" and "cutting deals" with Democrats in 10 years as the presiding officer in the Texas Senate.
First, Cruz told reporters the "Texas political establishment" is opposing him because "there are a lot of folks in Texas who would very much like to get him out of the state legislature and send him to Washington."
Later in the press conference, Cruz named Perry, saying Perry and Dewhurst "have fought tooth-and-nail" over state budgets but "It is in [Perry's] political interest to get rid of David Dewhurst and get him out of Austin and send him somewhere else."
UPDATE: Perry responded late Friday in a statement to the online Texas Tribune, writing that Cruz "falsely characterized my rationale for endorsing my friend and conservative colleague David Dewhurst" and that Dewhurst will "overhaul Washington, block President Obama's socialist agenda and restore the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Making false statements about my motives or David Dewhurst's conservative record is a disservice to Texas voters."
I laughed at the statement by Ted Cruz about Perry wanting Dewhurst out of Austin. I don't think Perry does, but I did think it was a funny line. Did you watch Friday's debate? If so, what did you think?
4. Taxpayers Paying for Weight-loss Surgery (link)
Should taxpayers be footing the bill for the poor and elderly to have weight-loss surgery? It's a debate that is starting to heat up. According to the Texas Tribune:
A Texas Tribune analysis of federal and state health care expenditures shows Medicare spending for weight-loss surgeries for Texas seniors — everything from gastric bypass to gastric banding — grew by nearly 400 percent between 2006 and 2010, from $340,000 to $1.7 million. Since 2009, the number of bariatric procedures covered by Medicaid, the state health provider for the disabled, children and the very poor, has more than doubled. And annual Medicaid spending has jumped from $290,000 to $2.7 million in the last three years, the bulk of which was supplemental payments made to managed care plans responding to the surge.
Nowhere has this state-subsidized weight-loss surgery been more pronounced than in Hidalgo County along the Texas-Mexico border, where, according to Medicaid records, doctors have been reimbursed for 443 weight-loss surgeries in the last five years, to the tune of more than $340,000. That is dozens more procedures — and more than twice the cost — than in Dallas County, which has nearly 150,000 more people on Medicaid than Hidalgo County.
What do you think about this? It's an issue that is getting larger and costing taxpayers more and more money a year.
5. Dumb Story of the Morning (link)
Parents are upset that their school won't let kids apply sunscreen.
Tacoma Public Schools policy prohibits teachers from putting sunscreen on students. Students can apply their own, but are required to have a doctor's note authorizing them to use it.
District spokesman Dan Voelpel says the doctor's note policy is actually based on a statewide law, and is aimed at preventing kids from sharing sunscreen with someone who might have an allergy. He says there are many students in the district with allergies to common additives in sunscreens and lotions.
Parents are encouraged to apply sunscreen before sending their children to school, or dress them appropriately for sunny weather.
Michener takes full responsibility for her decision not to put sunscreen on the girls before they left the house, but says ultimately, that point is irrelevant. For the sunscreen to be effective, it would have had to be reapplied midday anyway.
Michener says she has trouble understanding why the adults who reportedly commented on her daughters' worsening burns didn't simply remove them from the sun and have them wait inside for field day to finish, or give Michener a call and ask her to stop by with sunscreen for her children.
"There's a break in common sense," she says. "If they were over a hive of bees, you would remove them from the problem."
One of her daughters has a documented type of albinism - and Michener says teachers and administrators at the school are well-aware of her sensitivity.
Today Violet and Zoe are home from school, with peeling faces, headaches and chills.
Michener spent her morning writing letters to the district and school board members asking for a more "parent-friendly" policy.
"I mean having a doctor's note, that's the most unintuitive policy I've ever heard of, and not only that, it's impractical," she said.
I don't blame the school completely on this one. It is a silly rule, but they only have the rule because of stupid lawsuits that have happened or could happen in the future.
For those people that enjoy wine, this news is pretty good.
A study finds that those who drink in moderation - no more than 14 drinks a week and no more than three a day for women and four a day for men - have better overall scores than those who abstain completely.
The quality of life was measured using the Health Utilities index, which looks at factors including dexterity, emotion, cognition and mobility.
Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine studied 5,404 Canadians at age 50, and continued to observe them over a follow up period.
Most showed a stable alcohol consumption pattern and 'persistant moderate drinkers' were identified.
They found that these regular moderate drinkers scored highest in each of the health indices.
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These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of Lubbock’s First News with Chad Hasty. Tune in mornings 6-9am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.